Review by Toger
In the spring of 2019, the City of Black Lake is locked in the
grip of fear. In less than a month, the gruesome murders of 78
people by a serial killer have left the inhabitants panicked and
the authorities at a loss. Sparked by mass evacuations and the
need to catch the killer, the town is sealed off and all evacuees
detained in special quarantine centers in the hopes of catching
the person or persons responsible. Our hero awakens in the morgue
inside a body bag with no recollection of how he came to be there
or who he is. (I wish I could remember how many times I've played
an amnesiac.) Welcome to Midnight Nowhere.
Traditional point and click with a third-person perspective,
Midnight Nowhere is the latest game from Saturn+, who also
brought us Jazz
and Faust. The game's premisefigure out who
you are and what's been happening and get out of your current
predicamentis a simple one, but don't let that simplicity
fool you. On the way to puzzling various conundrums, you'll witness
vast amounts of carnage, gore, nudity and some truly odd attempts
at twisted humor. This ain't yo' mama's adventure game, so viewer
discretion is advised.
Gameplay consists of the usual adventure gaming suspects: riffling
through desk drawers, reading other people's mail, chatting up
a few NPCs, frisking lots of dead bodies and hunting up keys ...
lots of keys. You won't find sliders, mazes, towers of Hanoi or
variations on memory games, just a treasure trove of doors needing
keys. (There's even that old paper-under-the-door-poke-the-key-out-from-the-other-side-with-a-pointy-object
"puzzle"!)You'll spend so much time looking for keys
even the hero of the game will comment on all the locked doors.
I think they should have called the game Doors to Nowhere or
Key Hunt because that's how I felt after the umpteenth
hunt for yet another key to open yet another locked door.
Oddly, movement in Midnight Nowhere is node-basedthe
cursor changes into a glowing green arrowinstead of the
scrolling or panning usually associated with third-person games.
As a matter of fact, there is no panning at all in this game.
It's as if the game originally started out as first-person and
somewhere along the way they slapped an avatar in front of the
backgrounds. Literally. There were times I couldn't see where
on the myriad bodies I was searching because our intrepid hero
was always standing directly in front of whatever I needed to
see, which brings us to the first nit to pick: hotspots.
Midnight Nowhere's hotspots are plentifulsome objects
even have multiple hotspotsbut they're not always conducive
to helping you solve the issue at hand. Instead of the newer interactive
cursor, the game is something of a throwback to "days of
yore" in that it offers four icons that you manually choose
in order to interact with your surroundings: look, talk, pick
up, and touch/use. (Later in the game, you'll receive a PDA as
a fifth icon.) What would normally be a good thinglots of
objects and bodies to searchis turned into a tedious click-fest
due to the fact that if you don't have the correct icon selected,
you won't get a hotspot "hit." There were a number of
times where I knew what needed to be done, but the odd comments
from the hero coupled with the icon issue invariably convinced
me that my logic was flawed and halted my progress. In a couple
of instances, not even having a walkthrough helped negate the
I mentioned finding a PDA. Its purpose in the game is to record
various clues as you progress through the rest of the game; however,
be warned that it only records about 5% of the clues in the game,
and whoever provided the handwriting for it used his feet and
a fried chicken claw as writing implements. In one instance, the
code for a door (what else?) is recorded incorrectly, causing
all manner of violence on the part of this gamer. With another
clue, at least one of the numbers appears to be written backwards!
Visually, Midnight Nowhere is ... pretty ... what an odd
adjective given the game's sinister undertones. The prerendered
backgrounds are almost photorealistic and wonderfully dark and
foreboding. Gallows humor posters are prevalent throughout the
corridors; rooms are shrouded in shadow, ransacked and bloodstained.
In one room, a large blood smear went on for three screens, and
I wasn't sure I wanted to find out what made the smear. Speaking
of posters, I should mention that some of the posters are soft
porn in nature, and I still haven't figured out why. I'm pretty
sure in most metropolitan morgues, you won't find posters of naked
women decorating the hallways, but I could be wrong. Was I offended?
Not in the least; although I'm still trying to figure out what
they had to do with the story.
Music for the most part is unobtrusive and pretty much in keeping
with the dark, edgy story. I ran into a couple of places where
the music was incredibly loud, drowning out all of the speech,
and nothing I did would fix the problem. That's when I noticed
that the music was on a short loop, and it got truly annoying.
Good thing the subtitles are on as a default. Ambient sounds are
appropriate and well done.
Voice work for Midnight Nowhere isn't bad. (One NPC does
a horrible Edward G. Robinson imitation by ending all his sentences
with "see?" He'd apparently watched the movie Little
Caesar one too many times.) Considering our hero is suffering
from amnesia and surrounded by death and destruction, the guy
who voices the protagonist remains fairly calm. He even has the
presence of mind to make bad jokes and tasteless comments. I don't
know if the comments were lost in translation or it was just the
strange humor of the developers, but it seemed as if a lot of
the comments made were in answer to some unheard conversation.
Apart from the first paragraph, have you noticed that I haven't
said much about the story itself? It's tough to talk about this
game in specifics without giving away some of the story. When
I wasn't fighting the interface, I thought Midnight Nowhere
sported a decent narrative. Sure, it had plot holes big enough
for a double tractor-trailer truck, but it still had a twisted,
gritty slant to it. No talking rabbits, visitations by aliens
or slackers looking for love in all the wrong places.
Unfortunately, having to battle the interface made the game tedious,
and I lost interest about a third of the way through. Taking several
days' break from the game didn't improve my experience any, as
I'd lost what little curiosity remained. And that's a shame, because
Midnight Nowhere started out with promise and then slowly
fizzled into a dud. Luckily, the pretty graphics and curious plot
line kept the game from garnering the FFC rotten egg. As it stands,
it's just mediocre average.
Release Date: March 2004
Four Fat Chicks Links
PII 500 MHz (800 MHz recommended)
64 MB RAM (128 MB recommended)
DirectX compatible sound card
8 MB graphics card, 16-bit color
8X CD-ROM drive
400 MB free hard disk space
Where to Find It
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